Hummingbird Hawkmoth: This day flying moth is quite unmistakeable. It has a smart grey brown body with white markings along the sides and orange hind wings. With a 5cm wingspan and its continually whirring wings it makes a characteristic ‘hum’. Part of its scientific name is Macroglossum which recognises that it has a very long tongue which enables it to collect nectar, while hovering, from long tubular flowers like honeysuckle and red valerian.
It is a regular immigrant but is now managing to overwinter, especially in the south west of England. It is a resident moth of Southern Europe and North Africa and is found across Asia as far as China and Japan. In southern Europe it has two or three generations each year and over-winters as an adult hidden in a crevice. It is a strong flier and variable numbers come into the UK from France and Spain every summer maybe as early as April but particularly in July and August and lay eggs particularly on lady’s and hedge bedstraws.
The caterpillar is a characteristic green with the hawkmoth spike at the tail end. These home-produced moths are seen in September and October and an increasing number seem to be over-wintering successfully. This is another animal we are seeing more of because of global warming. There is a row for recording this moth on the Westbury Garden butterflies recording sheet.
Photos Robert Maxwell Wood John Ball Peter Bright